Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 25/03/2015
1. One Gang Causing Malacca Misery
A single gang is suspected to have been behind to armed boardings of commercial vessels in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) on Saturday, Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre reports. "From the close proximity of the two incidents, it is of high probability that the robbers will continue to pry in this area over the next few days," cautioned ReCAAP. "The ReCAAP ISC recommends vessels to take extra precautionary measures when operating in this area, especially in the hours of darkness.
2. Chapter 11 Protection for Bulk Owner
Bulker operator Sobelmar Antwerp said that in connection with its Chapter 11 proceedings in Hartford, Connecticut, the court has granted all of the interim relief that Sobelmar requested. The court granted the company the right to continue to operate and pay all voyage and operating expenses, pay employees and crew, continue all cash management procedures and maintain all insurance in the ordinary course for the M/V Brasschaat, the M/V Vyritsa, the M/V Kovdor and the M/V Zarachensk. The company resorted to Chapter 11 as it was unable to reach an agreement concerning its future debt repayments.
3. Fighting Recycling on the Beaches
European, Turkish and Chinese recyclers are set to benefit from strict new EU rules on breaking up old ships, but the practice of dismantling them on beaches in South Asia at great human and environmental cost will still be hard to stop. Of all 1,026 ocean going ships recycled in 2014, 641 were taken apart on beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, according to figures of the NGO Shipbreaking platform, which campaigns for an end to hazardous scrapping on beaches. In South Asia, tankers, cruise liners and other old ships are rammed onto a beach, with hundreds of unskilled workers then taking apart the vessels with simple tools.
4. Piracy Charity Faces Rejig
The changing face of piracy could spell the end of piracy humanitarian group MPHRP in its current form. The future of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) is under review, the organisation has said. Funding from its main backer, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, is due to run out on 31 March.
The trust has offered to extend its support to the end of this year, but the MPHRP has yet to accept the offer, which comes with two conditions: that MPHRP joins another charity, such as the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) by the end of the year, and that it "refocus" its activities.
5. Yacht Security Warning for Mediterranean
A warning to yachts cruising in southern Mediterranean waters was issued last February. The maritime registry of the Marshall Islands, International Registeries Inc. (IRI) issued a Yacht Safety Advisory after concerns when the death cult took control of Libyan ports. The fear is that this well-armed group will use speedboats to attack unaware yachts cruising in the area. British counter extremism think tank, Quilliam Foundation, has stated that ISIS planned to use Libya as a “gateway to Europe". As yet no reports have been recorded of such piracy action, but there are reasons to believe that leisure craft could indeed be vulnerable.
6. EU Looks to Reassert Iran Sanctions
The European Union is set to put 40 Iranian shipping firms back on a list of sanctioned groups in a blow to the Islamic Republic’s transport sector which has sought an easing of trade restrictions, letters sent from the EU showed. The move, which comes at a critical time in international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, is part of the EU’s response to a series of court victories by Iranian companies that have overturned EU sanctions against them. In February, the bloc re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s biggest oil tanker firm NITC. An EU diplomat said: “The (EU) Council looks at every judgment carefully and explores all choices available"
7. Greek Magnate Looks to Lawsuit
Greek shipping magnate Victor Restis’ lawsuit against United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has been dismissed. In a statement Restis’ Enterprise Shipping and Trading (EST) said its lawsuit had been dismissed by the US Government through its right to veto under the State Secrets Act. EST attacked what it sees as misguided immunity for UANI, which it said had been proven not to be a real NGO. “As a group of private enterprises, we sought fairness and transparency through the US Justice System, but we are disappointed that we have failed to have our day in court due to opaque reasons beyond our control,” EST stated.
8. Satellite Content for Seafarers Battlelines Drawn
As Satellite providers battle for market share, the onboard struggle to efficiently maximize bandwidth allocation is also being solved. The requirement to monitoring critical equipment and at the same time satisfy the increasingly sophisticated demands of today’s seafarers all need to be balanced against the cost of bandwidth. The call for both ‘big data’ and the full range of crew connectivity and entertainment is upon the shipping industry. SatCom providers have responded in a big way, but the myriad choices available to shipowners and operators can be confusing, complicated and needlessly expensive. US giant KVH leads the field.
9. Japanese Defense Force Gets New Ship
Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force on Wednesday took delivery of the biggest Japanese warship since World War Two, the Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers that battled the United States in the Pacific. The Izumo with a crew of 470 sailors is a highly visible example of how Japan is expanding the capability of its military to operate overseas and enters service as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks lawmaker approval to loosen the restraints of Japan’s pacifist post-war constitution. The 248m (813 feet) long Izumo resembles U.S. Marine Corp amphibious assault carriers in size and design.
10. Caned Drunken Captain Canned
The captain of the Norwegian LPG tanker Yara Froya lost his job last week after tests showed he had a blood alcohol concentration of 1.27. The master was alleged to have got drunk after his ship left the port of Fredericia in Denmark. The 3,500dwt vessel sailed into Kiel late in the evening where it was inspected by the German coast guard. The officials ordered the master to sleep off his intoxication while the ship was temporarily docked. When he awoke, he was presented with a letter of dismissal from his employer, Larvik Shipping, and fined 4,000 euros ($4,370).
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